EU Commissioner Louis Michel renews call for immediate humanitarian access to Gaza
Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, has called for the opening of the border between Israel and Gaza to enable vital relief supplies to reach the people inside the Gaza Strip. "We know the needs are increasing all the time. The problem now is providing secure access to those who are suffering. €30 million in supplies and funding from the EU are ready and waiting: give us the tools to get on with the job."
Mr Michel stressed the need for rapid action to prevent the humanitarian position from deteriorating any further. "In the current situation, there is a real risk that Gaza will begin to look like a citadel under siege, where the civilian population is trapped and even basic needs cannot be met. Humanitarian aid is neutral. It does not seek to confer any advantage on any party or imply any form of political recognition. There are no grounds for a blockade of humanitarian aid. This must continue to be provided to the people in Gaza in the same way as for vulnerable groups in the West Bank – and in other crisis zones."
The European Commission has a relief package of almost €30 million for Gaza, including €10.2 million just released from its food aid reserve for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for emergency food aid in the Gaza Strip. This comes from an overall humanitarian budget of €67.4 million for the Palestinians – €43 million in its humanitarian global plan and €23.4 million earmarked for food aid. The relief programmes are implemented by the Commission's operational partners including the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations.